Blood brothers - Page 4

DIY filmmakers Rick Popko and Dan West pursue guts and glory
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Though Martinez is used to working on bigger projects, he stuck with RetarDEAD dreaming up such elaborate moments as a Day of the Deadinspired man-ripped-in-half sequence because, as he says, "In a way, I'm a coconspirator now." He also appreciates the directors' sheer enthusiasm and appreciation. After a killer take, they were "literally high-fiving me. Most low-budget filmmakers are so egocentric they would rarely do anything like that. Good effects are important, but they're not the only things that are important."

Dawn of RetarDEAD

Though a third movie in the Popko-West canon is already in the planning stages (Satanists!), it's looking like several months before RetarDEAD still being edited from 30-plus hours of raw footage has its world premiere.

"We only get one to two nights a week to do this," Popko explains. Making movies for a living is the ultimate dream, but for now, both men view their films as being in the tradition of early John Waters: made outside the system and laden with as much bad taste as they please. Potential distributors have already advised the pair to adjust RetarDEAD's divisive title, a notion they considered "for about five minutes," according to West.

Popko and West's films may be throwbacks to the drive-in era, but their outlook on the movie biz is actually quite forward-looking. Popko "the carnival barker" to West's "guy behind the curtain pulling levers and switching things," according to Burr anticipates a day when tangling with queasy distributors won't even be necessary, because many films will simply be released directly over the Internet. Both directors are also very interested in high-definition technology; they plan to upgrade from their old DV camera to a new HD model for their next effort, for reasons beyond a desire for better visual quality.

"What HD has done is bring grind house back," West says. "Now you can make stuff on a level that can compete, aesthetically, with what Hollywood's doing almost. As far as your talent, you'll be able to compete realistically with other movies. Now people can make good horror movies on their own terms."

"If you really want to make a movie, you can," Popko notes, stressing the importance of production values. Though the cutthroat nature of the indie film world is always on their minds, they welcome the new wave of B-movies that HD may herald.

"Now, there aren't movies like Shriek of the Mutilated that were done in the 1970s, which could compete [with Hollywood]. These movies can now come back into the fold as long as they're shot on HD and there will be a shit fest like none other," West predicts, adding that he's looking forward to the deluge. "The world's a better place with shitty movies in it." SFBG

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